Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I am currently sitting in an air conditioned hotel room on a busy strip in Miami. Where am I? It's hard to believe that yesterday morning I woke up in San Jose, Costa Rica, and the morning before in Havana, Cuba. The morning before on a beautiful beach in Veradero, Cuba.

But one thing I can say:

I love my life.

I have had a wonderful semester. It really all came together at the end with the Cuba trip. I absolutely, positively loved Cuba. Most fantastic place I have ever been. The people, culture, foods, and political system there were different from any other place I have been. The impact of the USA there is also devastating... something that still continues today. More on this later.

But as for the next day and a half, I will be in Miami debriefing the trip with the whole group. Last night after we flew in, my friends and I went to a Cuban cafe across the street from the hotel and were thrilled to still be speaking Spanish in the USA. Our waitress was from Nicaragua and spoke perfect English, but let us talk to her in Spanish for our sakes. :-) It is great to be back in the US, but still in Spanish speaking land. Apparently, they call Miami the capital of Latin America. So I am not too far from a place I have grown to love.

Anyway. I am so excited to come home tomorrow. I have never been this excited to come home in my life. I can't wait to run into the arms of friends and family and really feel like I am home.

Beloved family and friends, thanks for being part of this journey with me. At times I didn't think I would come out of it alive, so thank you for bearing with me! :-)

Thursday, April 15, 2010


TOMORROW TOMORROW TOMORROW I AM GOING TO CUBA! At 6:15 am I will say goodbye to my San Jose family and fly to Cuba. I honestly think that one of the things that makes me most excited about this trip is the fact that it is nearly impossible for Americans to go. I feel like I am sneaking into this forbidden communist territory, defying the US embargo. (I am actually not doing this... I do have a visa to go. But not without months of work from our professors with the US government.)

Anyway. A few things that are really interesting from our orientation today.

1. We are staying with host families the whole times, but in groups. We will only be at our homes during the evenings. But this is the first time EVER that there are host families, so it is a huge honor!

2. We can not eat with our families- we have all of our meals outside of the home, because it is not economically possible. Each family is given the amount of food that they themselves need, so they do not have enough for a guest.

3. We can not use any of the family's soap or toilet paper. Toilet paper is a luxary. (One time there was a shortage of toilet paper on the island, and people were using newspapers and other things as substitutes.)

4. Hence, we are bringing all of that with us. And a huge bag of gifts/necessities for the family, which includes toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, and other very basic things that are difficult to obtain on the island.

5. There are two currencies in Cuba. One of citizens and one for foreigners.

6. Even though Cuba is 90 miles from Miami, we can not fly back to the US. Instead, we must fly 2 or so hours back to Costa Rica, stay in a hostel for one night, and the next day fly 2 and a half hours to Miami. There are no flights to and from Cuba from the US.

7. One day we have a discussion with Fidel Castro about communism. JUST KIDDING. But we will get to talk to some really interesting people who have been involved in the revolution as well as Cuba's affairs in Angola.

Well that's all I know! When I come back from the other side, I will let you all know how it went!

Just some quick photos

Just wanted to quickly show you all where I have been living the past month. Really beautiful town in the mountains of Cartago. I honestly felt like I was living in Switzerland or something.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I am alive!

Hello friends!

I am back in San Jose after a wonderful month in San Cristobal! I will be sure to post pictures and stories very soon. Currently I am recovering from a horrible sinus infection and also working on a little five page paper due tomorrow! Love homework.

Today was a very affirming day...I felt very competent and independent going throughout the day. I took two buses and a taxi back from the farm and was able to ask people on the street for directions and information about the buses. Then, I took a taxi alone to the doctor and was able to explain my symptoms and buy all the medications I needed at a pharmacy. It was really nice to be able to confidently maneuver my way through the country.

I feel like I "home" in San Jose. It was so great to see my mom and be back in my room again. I have missed this place and really feel like I am one step closer to being home. My mom made pancakes for me for dinner (actually that was the appetizer... I ate my usual massive portion of rice and lentils and salad afterwards!)

I hope that you all are well! I miss you all very much and can't wait to be home in a few weeks. But there is still another adventure to be had: in a few days I will head off to Cuba! After several months of working with the US government to acquire permission to go, we are all cleared and will be in Havana in just a few nights. I think Cuba really will be one of the most unusual places I have ever traveled to. :-) So excited.

Love you all! More later!